Putts tough for MVCC

Mesa Verde Country Club put itself in position to shoot an even lower score than its nine-under-par 62 in the 15th Jones Cup Wednesday, but not enough putts fell.

The four-time winners shot five-under on the front nine, made a late charge with two birdies on the par-three 17th hole, but came up short of winning the inaugural Jones Cup at Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine. The host won in a playoff against Big Canyon.

Each of five clubs — Newport Beach and Santa Ana country clubs, Mesa Verde, Big Canyon and Shady Canyon — uses the two best balls per fivesome for each hole.

Every Mesa Verde player finished with at least one birdie. Men's champion Steve Rhorer had four while assistant professional Mike Fergin and senior champion Ed Susolik each had two, and ladies champion Madelaine Campbell and head pro Tom Sargent finished with one apiece.

"If you miss a putt you have no one to blame but yourself," said Sargent, who has played in all 15 Jones Cup events. "The greens were firm so the ball runs, which is typical of bent grass greens."

Rhorer said it was difficult to gauge pace of putts and where the ball would roll.

"I started seeing breaks that weren't really there," Rhorer said. "[Some] putts were straighter than I was reading. If your pace was too firm, [the ball] wouldn't take the break until it got past the hole.

"We had our chances."

Mesa Verde went from even to four-under by the fifth hole with birdies from Sargent and Rhorer on the par-five third hole and another birdie from Rhorer on the par-three fourth.

Sargent and Rhorer each hit wedges onto the third green and made their subsequent putts. Rhorer then sank an uphill 20-footer on the fourth hole.

Susolik continued the birdie streak on the par-four fifth, knocking a sand wedge to 20 feet and draining the birdie try.

Rhorer birdied the par-four ninth while Campbell made key par putts on both the eighth and ninth holes to help Mesa Verde finish five-under at the turn.

They bolted to a strong start on the back nine, with Fergin and Susolik making birdies on the par-four 10th. Susolik hit his 130-yard approach off a hill to the right of the green. The ball rolled onto the putting surface and settled two feet from the hole, making for a routine birdie.

Fergin went the more conventional route, sticking his approach shot to eight feet and sinking the putt.

But Mesa Verde dropped a stroke, and some momentum, Rhorer said, on the par-five 11th, the team's only bogey.

The 574-yard hole played entirely uphill and Fergin made the only par. He hit his third shot, a nine-iron, to 15 feet and missed a birdie by a few inches. Three players missed par putts of six feet or less.

Walking off the 11th green, Susolik said, "We suck on the par fives."

Mesa Verde went one-under on the four par-fives.

Fergin birdied the par-three 14th, knocking a six-iron to 12 feet and then sinking the right-to-left breaker. Both Campbell and Rhorer sent Mesa Verde to nine-under with birdies on the par-three 17th. They both made putts of about 20 feet.

Both Sargent and Rhorer said the course was in excellent condition and Sargent appreciated that the tees weren't pushed back to the limit.

"Madelaine could get to the holes [in regulation]," Sargent said. "It's important for everyone to feel like they can contribute."

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